Pacific Island Guide to Family History ResearchEdit This Page

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Island scene, Saint-Joseph, Ile des Pins, Nouméa, New Caledonia.

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by Noel Neville Cardon

Because Pacific island family history is based largely on an oral tradition, researchers face special challenges. They need to use special methods. These methods are not widely known among family history researchers, so in writing this guide, we found Pacific islanders who had been successful in doing family history work and learned from them how they did it.The people who shared their stories and information with me were very kind and generous, and it is their hard work that has made this guide possible. Most of their names are in the Bibliography.

I tried to find someone from each of the island groups to interview, but was not able to get a case study from all groups. My hope is that one of the case studies in Step 9 will be close enough to your situation to help you.

Table of Contents

How to Use This Guide
Latter-day Saint Pacific Island Heritage
Steps of Research for Pacific Island Ancestors

Step 1. Write what you can from memory
Step 2. Gather written records
Step 3. Learn about customs and history
Using canoes like this navigators explored and settled the Pacific basin.
Step 4. Gather oral histories from your oldest relatives
Step 5. Organize your information
Step 6. Organize your papers
Step 7. Track your research
Step 8. Find ancestors on the IGI
Step 9. Obtain and search other records
By clicking on this step 9, you will get information about:
  • Island naming customs
  • How dates have been estimated
  • How to decide whether a name is male or female
  • Other Pacific island customs related to family history
  • The Cole Jensen Collection and Index or Directory
  • Oral Genealogies collected during the 1970s
  • How to use records from institutions near you
  • How to use photographic collections
  • How to use the Family History Library Catalog
Step 10. Submit names to the IGI
Step 11. Share what you found
The Pacific islands are split into 3 groups: Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. Click this map to enlarge it.

Table of Pacific Island Names

Cook Islands (Includes Rarotonga)
Easter Island (Rapa Nui)
Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, and Palau
Fiji
French Polynesia
Austral Islands
Gambier Islands, Marquesas Islands, Tuamotu Islands
Society Islands (includes Tahiti)
Hawaii background and case study
Hawaii research helps
Kiribati Research (Gilbert Islands)
Nauru
New Caledonia
New Zealand Maori customs and background
New Zealand Maori research ideas
Niue
Samoa (Western and American)
Solomon Islands
Tokelau
Capt. Cook, a British explorer, mapped many of the Pacific islands.
Tonga
Tonga customs
Tonga oral history
Tuvalu (Ellice Islands)
Vanuatu
Wallis and Futuna Islands

Bibliography

How to Use This Guide

Steps 1 through 7 and Steps 9 and 11 are the same for all Pacific island researchers. They will help you get started with your  basic family history work.

Some of the information in Steps 8, and 10 are about temple work of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormon). Just use the information in the guide that will be of help to you in your needs. You will find that you will be skipping back and forth from one step to another as you do your research. This is normal, so feel free to do it.

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